National Park Service officials long have eyed the 419 acres that rise up above Maho Bay, but have lacked the financial wherewithal to close the deal. That's where TPL stepped in.
The land was owned by Harvey Monroe Marsh. Back in the 1960s, he left the tract to his 11 grandchildren in equal shares. While the Park Service managed to acquire three of those shares in the 1970s, it has struggled to find a way to afford the others. TPL in 2003 picked up one of the outstanding shares, and in 2007 bought six of the outstanding shares to head off development of the property.
Under the purchase agreements, those who owned the shares will each be able to hold onto six acres on which two homes can be built. The lots are situated in such a way that this can be accomplished without cutting new roads to access the properties.
While TPL bought the shares for $19 million, it agreed to sell the land to the Park Service for $9 million, or roughly 47 cents on the dollar.
"It's an incredible bargain for the taxpayers," John Garrison, TPL's field office director for southwest Florida and the Caribbean, told the Virgin Islands Daily News.
The Park Service plans to pay TPL in quarterly payments -- the first $2.25 million is contained in the omnibus spending bill recently passed by Congress.
Once the land transfer is completed, the Park Service plans to improve an existing trail that runs from the beach to Centerline Road and also create a better parking area for beach access.